Mark Barclay is from the UK’s largest independent parts supplier GSF Car Parts. Here he discusses the essential car checks you should be conducting on your teen’s first car.
For your teen, getting a first car is bound to be an unforgettable experience. But, it can be nerve-wracking for you. While picking a new car can be fun, it’s key that you point out the seriousness of checking for and reporting any problems that may arise.
Here, I am going to be sharing the top four things you should be looking out for in your teen’s first car.
Ensure consistency before you buy
Unfortunately, there are some car salesmen out there who are just looking to make a quick profit. So, when buying a car, it’s vital to check the consistency between the stated mileage, the appearance of the car and its age. If these things don’t add up, it’s worth questioning them about it or avoiding the dealership altogether.
If you fail to check these things, you could end up paying more for an older model that has undisclosed or undiscovered hazards. For example, the brakes may need tightening, or the headlights may be dodgy: both of which could cause serious accidents. So, be certain that everything seems legitimate before committing to a car for your teen.
Check any engine noise
Once your teen is on the road, they’ll probably want to show off their new wheels to their friends. But, make sure that they’re not too busy (or uninformed) to know when there’s an issue. The engine is an extremely important component of any car, so an unusual noise shouldn’t be ignored, no matter how loud or quiet.
You can normally get an idea of what the problem is by paying attention to the noise itself. While a whirring sound could indicate a bad power steering pump, a grinding or screeching could indicate a starter issue or worn brakes. And, even quieter sounds, like hissing (which is associated with exhaust problems), can have severe effects, so ensure your teen knows to listen out for these and report anything untoward back to you.
Pay attention to grinding gears
There are many gear-related issues that can occur, including buzzing and hissing if there’s a loose bolt in the shift linkage or rumbling or growling when there’s a faulty ball bearing. However, the most common complaint about gears is when they begin to make a crunching or grinding noise. In many cases, this might simply be a case of the driver trying to move the car without engaging the clutch first. However, it can sometimes indicate that the clutch is failing or the gear synchronisers (the components which allow a gear to match speed) have become worn.
Although it’s normal for the gears to develop wear and tear, it certainly shouldn’t happen in a new car, and should never be ignored. If your child will be driving an automatic, they might not hear any noise, but they’ll be able to identify grinding gears by monitoring the time taken for the car to shift gears — if there is hesitation or shaking, it’s usually a sign of failed transmissions.
Inspect tyres regularly
Tyres can be a large expense for your teen’s car, so regularly inspecting them will help you to quickly identify any issues before they get worse — hopefully cutting your replacement costs down. But, in general, sensible driving and frequent maintenance will keep your child’s tyres safe for use.
While their tyres are bound to deflate with wear, any tears, bubbles or bulges can indicate more severe issues at hand. When left unattended, these problems can cause a tyre blowout, which can cause serious accidents.
I recommend checking the tyre pressures regularly, as both over and under inflation can wear the tread depth and be damaging. The legal minimum tread depth for the UK is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tread breadth and around the circumference. But, the DVLA advises all drivers to change their tyres when they get down to 3mm. You should also inspect for uneven tread wear, as this can indicate incorrect wheel alignment and result in tyre dragging. And, always be sure to check for any nails that might have punctured the tyres.
Buying your teen their first car can seem daunting, but with my top four essential checks, you can rest assured that your child’s car is safe. Just make sure that their driving style matches!